I may seem like nothing but an already crotchety almost-thirty-something who has resigned himself to the “armchair analysis” stage of athletic participation. And while that holds more than a modicum of truth (a ruptured ACL and chronic back issues will do that), I also contend that the advent of the fitness culture is, indeed, a religious movement, and is, therefore, worthy of theological assessment.
There is a stunning verse in Matthew 10 in which Christ declares that he didn’t come to bring peace, “but a sword.” This, of course, is one of Jesus’s sayings that doesn’t fit the modern narrative most have for the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s a statement from Jesus that is brought to light in Mark 3, in which we find a stark contrast between Jesus’s enemies and friends — and what constitutes his family.
The Lord’s Table is a special place and time for the deepest form of Christian worship. It is a time for serious rejoicing — serious in that it is reverential, but also joyful in that we celebrate the Lord’s victory over sin, death, and grave. The communion service is not a funeral dirge — we are not grieving a dead king but glorying in a risen Savior. Such is what the gospel tells us and what the Table shows us.
The great scheme of the devil isn’t to annihilate the gospel entirely — he knows he can’t do that — but to adulterate the gospel. Satan’s gambit is, and always has been, to mar, muddy, mix truth with error. As the “angel of light” (2 Cor 11:13–15), his plot remains to steal men’s hearts by swindling their faith from God’s gospel and to “another gospel.” He enacts this plot gleefully and successfully so long as Christ is not preached.
The Genevan reformer, John Calvin, is famous for (among an abundance other things) his assertion that the heart of man is “a perpetual forge of idols.” (55) This oft-quoted line from the eminent French theologian has been verified throughout the ages in mankind’s own hostile disposition towards the things of God. Man’s refusal to accept the authority of God and insistence that he is his own sovereign has led to a bevy of deceitful and corrupt ideologies and philosophies.
The undercurrent of the Acts of the Apostles is an uneasy one, to say the least. After the murder of their revolutionary leader, it was thought that Jesus’s disciples would disperse and his teachings dissipate. But, in fact, the exact opposite occurred. Jesus’s message of forgiveness spread like wildfire throughout the known world. The world was subsequently “turned upside down” by the apostles’ doctrine.
Growing up, I never really believed in Santa Claus. You can call that a parenting travesty if you wish. I don’t, however. I am thankful that it was never instilled in me to believe in this omniscient, omnipresent man who’d reward you on December 25th for all the good you’ve done throughout the past 360-odd days.